My Colorado Neighbors

I never was much of a “smaller bird” watcher in Florida … don’t know why, but I just wasn’t.  Probably though I found them a bit frustrating to photograph as they darted in and out of the bushy trees.  LOL.  However, here on the western slope, I find it more fun to photograph them and have learned a whole lot about them.

On of the more popular and quite beautiful birds that we get is the Bullock’s oriole.  Being mostly bright orange with a black crown and eye line they are quite easily spotted as they dart from tree to bushes, feeding on berries, fruits, and small insects.

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They are one of only a few species that will eject the eggs of a pesky cowbird that has slipped one of their own eggs into the orioles nest for them to raise.  Quite fascinating.500_3458-Edit-EditThe male blue grosbeak is another that is easily spotted and identified in good light.  Its behavior of feeding is quite similar to that of orioles.  It’s quite a beautifully colored bird.500_3183Though I can’t identify birds by their songs and sounds to save myself, that doesn’t mean that I don’t try.  LOL.  Often I hear songs that I believe are one species … only to find a northern mockingbird instead.  They are the masters of mimickery (is that even a word?) for sure.  I always wonder why a bird named “northern” would be primarily found in the south … right?  It’s the state bird of 5 states (Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi) … those aren’t even remotely “northern”.  Go figure.500_3245Another beautiful bird that we never had in Florida is the lark sparrow.  I personally love its striped head and social nature.  An interesting fact about lark sparrow is that when on the ground, they only hop around, as opposed to walk around, when they’re in courtship mode, which in itself is quite fascinating.  Love this one with its “bonus bug” in its beak.500_3797500_3168There are many different types of swallows here on the western slope, including the ever-abundant barn swallow, whose range is almost the entire lower 48 + AK + Canada and Mexico.  They have deeply forked tails and the females tend to prefer those males with the longest tails … I guess that (tail) size does matter!  LOL 500_3208Northern rough-winged swallows have a similar geographical range.  They are pretty much less colorful or striking to view as the others.  This pair I would see on the same branch almost every time I looked.  500_3817I’ve had quite the hummingbird education since I’ve been in Colorado.  In my backyard, the black-chinned hummingbirds are my most common hummingbird visitors.  I saw my first hummingbird nests and was astonished to see just how very tiny they are.  Did you know that this species’ nest can also expand to accommodate the growing nestlings?  Now that’s amazing to me!500_3175The water birds can be fun to photograph as well.  Two of them are my personal favorites for this area.  The American avocet is quite beautiful with the daintiest long curled upward beaks ever.  500_3325Another favorite of mine are the killdeer … which you will undoubtedly hear long before you see them scurrying about.  Such characters they are … and quite beautiful as well.850_4482-Edit-EditNow, of course, anyone who knows me knows that birds of prey are my favorite birds.  This amazing Cooper’s hawk is just one of many that call my area home.500_4006During the late spring and summer, we also get Swainson’s hawks.  When they call out, to me, they sound just like red-tailed hawks and their call is sure to make your hair on your neck stand up.  LOL500_4261Being from Florida I was quite used to reptiles (lizards, alligators, non-native iguanas), but here we have numerous species of our own lizards.500_3986My favorite one is the collared lizard, which I was in search of and when I finally found one, I stopped in my tracks.  I was so impressed with their colors and patterns in their skin.500_3865-Edit-2-Edit-EditThey’re also quite tolerant of the observer … but rest assured I photographed these using my car as a blind because I was so excited and really didn’t want to alter it from sunning itself.500_4203I’m also quite impressed with those long claws … such fascinating creatures too.  When the mom lays her eggs, she leaves and the young emerge having to fend for themselves right from the start.  Amazing, huh?  Can’t wait until next spring/summer to see more!500_4237Hope that everyone enjoyed this week’s post.  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment if you would like.

Next Up:  I’m missing the beach … so let’s hit the ocean!

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com                 http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

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I’ve Always Wanted To Go To British Columbia In The Spring … So I Did :-)

Not too long ago we amde a trip to British Columbia for some birding opportunities.  One of the places that we visited was the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta, B.C. (Canada).  It has been designated as a site of Hemispheric Importance by the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network.  Consisting of marshes, wetlands, and dikes, one can see a sampling of the approximately 250 species that, at one time or another, call the sanctuary home.850_2360People tend to ask when the best time to visit there (or anywhere else for that matter) … well, it all depends on what you’re looking to find.  We didn’t pick our visit time for any particular reason, other than that’s when we were on holiday.  🙂  Of course, springtime is always a pretty safe bet if baby birds are on your agenda.

There were many (as in many many) wood ducks present.  Since it’s a species that I didn’t get a lot of in Florida, I was tickled with them being so available.  Everyone’s favorite is the quite colorful / beautiful male wood duck.  With its iridescent colored head, colorful beak, and that iconic red eye, it’s easy to see why.850_2362While there were female wood ducks and young ones in tow, I tended to concentrate on the striking males.500_1185Speaking of striking males, the cinnamon teals were also present … male and female … but the most photogenic were again the males.850_2474I just love the way the frothy waters and floating feathers ornamented this beautiful one.500_0982There are lots of hiking trails along the way and quite a few bird boxes, some affectionately labeled as “Apartments”.  Nice to see some tree swallows making good use of them.850_2419They were also plentiful outside of their nesting homes as they flew around in search of bugs and other dining choices.  So very beautiful they are.850_2520It wasn’t just tree swallows either … quite a few barn swallows had nested in the rafters of some of the gazebos in the area.500_1228Of course, no Canada trip could be complete without some Canada goose and their goslings swimming by us.  I just love how the young ones are usually bookended by the adults.  LOL500_1316Along the boardwalks we found several spotted towhees feeding seeds left by the tons of visitors that had come by before us.  I just love that red eye of these quite beautiful sparrow-like birds.850_2436A beautiful song sparrow was spotted as it darted through the marshes.  Thankfully it pause long enough for a few snaps of the lens.500_1053Singing away so beautifully was this adorable marsh wren, also spotted in the marshes and very cooperatively perched on an open reed.  Just love the way their tail feathers stand up like that.500_0925There was also a pair of sandhill cranes who were nesting there.  They reportedly had nested earlier in the season and lost their eggs, but re-nested soon enough.  Hopefully they became proud parents of a baby colt or two just a few weeks later.  🙂500_1153Nearby the sanctuary, we found this beautiful great horned owl, which had 2 fledgling owlets perched high up in the trees as well.  Try as I might, I couldn’t get a clear shot of them.  Ugh.500_1253Of course, being in British Columbia (near waters) bald eagles were numerous.  We were thrilled when this pair flew overhead past us.500_1132At another nearby park, we came across a absolutely stunning red-breasted sapsucker.  Often one might find rufous hummingbirds near these woodpeckers which drill sap wells in the riparian trees, but we just saw this guy who entertained us for quite some time.  Such a gorgeous bird!500_1547500_1397Well, that’s just a sampling of the various birds we found during our stay in British Columbia.  Before I close, I’ll leave you with one more image.  🙂500_1575Hope that you enjoyed that …

Next Up:  Got so many more burrowing owls to share, so if you’re ready …

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com                 http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com